Tag: Texas Venture Labs

Texas Venture Labs Fall Expo Showcases New Startups

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

IMG_4756The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at the Univerity of Texas at Austin showcased 12 Austin startups and three Alumni companies at its Fall 2014 Expo last Friday.

The companies presented in three different categories with the consumer products and services startups kicking off the event at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. The other groups included software and technology and biotechnology and medical devices.

“With the expo today, we’re helping companies raise money,” said Rob Adams, director of TVL. The program doesn’t offer any venture capital but 40 percent of its 102 companies have raised money.

Out of the audience of 300 attending the expo, about 75 of them were investors, Adams said.

To date, companies participating in the program, which was founded five years ago, have raised $240 million, Adams said. TVL takes about a dozen companies every semester for its accelerator.

Ten Acre Organics made a lot of connections through the program, said Michael Hanan, the company’s co-founder with Lloyd Minick. The company is building a 10-acre farm as a model that can be copied in other cities. The farm uses aquaponics in which fish and vegetables are grown together to create a zero waste farming environment.

Ten Acre Organics is raising $600,000 and is also applying for $600,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, Hanan said. They are planning to spend the money on expanding from a 1,000 square foot greenhouse to a 10,000 square foot greenhouse. They also want to expand to 10 acres on the edge of the city limits for their model farm. They participated in the Unlimited USA incubator as well as TVL.

BeehiveID, an online identity verification platform, enrolled in the Texas Venture Labs program to tap into its research capabilities to help the company gather data on its market size, said Mary Haskett, the company’s CEO and co-founder. BeehiveID is also part of the Austin Technology Incubator. It is also a graduate of the Techstars Seattle program.

“I knew the program had a group of really sharp MBA students, law students and engineering students, and all kinds of students in a variety of disciplines working on stuff and it’s free so to me it would be insane not to apply,” Haskett said.

Texas Venture Labs extends an open invitation to any startup in Austin to apply, so why not, Haskett said.

Share is a credit card that allows people to earn money to give to charities with each purchase. Cardholders can track and see the tangible result of their donations through its app and online platform.

The TVL program helped the early-stage startup refine its business plan, said Stephen Garten, its founder.

“They just really helped us with market validation,” he said.

Texas Venture Labs also brings in a lot of successful entrepreneurs from Austin to give talks to the startups. Larry Warnock of Gazzang and Cotter Cunningham with RetailMeNot gave great talks, he said. The company will also be participating in South by Southwest Interactive’s social good pitch next year.

The other companies participating in the TVL Fall Expo included:

Omganics – a startup founded by two mothers that makes wipes and other organic products for children.

RunTitle – a big data startup for the oil and gas industry which provides a database of mineral title research.

DRAFT – formerly known as Hrvt is an online portfolio management company that uses aggregation and crowd source technology.

Inkscreen – has created Photolink, a secure high-resolution photo storage and sharing app aimed at companies, particularly regulated industries such as insurance, government, energy, healthcare and defense.

Predictalytics – a market intelligence platform for the electricity industry to give power providers the ability to predict prices.

Silexta – this startup has developed patented technology to prolong the life of Li-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicle applications.

Macromoltek – has created software that provides antibody modeling and analysis tools for drug manufacturers.

Vigilant Devices – the company has created a new system to track drug dosages in hospitals to eliminate waste and theft.

Onko Solutions – a new non-invasive medical device to screen and detect cervical cancer in women.

ENTVantage Diagnostics – has created a diagnostic test to diagnose bacterial sinusitis and differentiate it from viral sinusitis. The test is similar in nature to the rapid strep throat test administered at many doctors’ offices and clinics.

Alumni Presentations:

TeVido BioDevices – is using 3D bio-printing of a women’s own cells to build custom grafts for breast cancer reconstruction.

NutureMe – has created a new category of baby food.

Equipboard – is building the world’s largest database of artists and the gear they use.

UT’s Texas Venture Labs receives $6 million gift

Photo courtesy of the University of Texas by Jill Johnson

The University of Texas at Austin announced today that the Texas Venture Labs at the McCombs School of Business has received a $6 million gift from Fort Worth businessman Jon Brumley.
And the incubator will be renamed the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs.
“This investment is a game changer that enables us to expand the scale and accessibility of the Texas Venture Labs model,” McCombs Den Thomas Gilligan, said in a statement. “It’s a vote of confidence as well, because of the reputation of Jon Brumley as an entrepreneur, a business build and a distinguished graduate of McCombs and the Wharton School of Business.”
Brumley made his money in the oil and gas industry. He founded six companies.
“Texas Venture Labs is a gem in the Texas entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Brumley said in a statement. “It provides critical, hands-on experience for aspiring entrepreneurs who learn as students the effort required to get a new venture through the financing process. For me, this gift is an opportunity to build our capacity to grow the economy of Texas, while giving a leg up to young entrepreneurs, who remind me a lot of myself at that age.”
Founded in 2010, the Texas Venture Labs has worked with 40 companies that have raised more than $25 million in investment capital. The incubator provides help to graduate students in business, engineering, law and natural sciences. Texas Venture Labs also sponsors the annual Venture Labs Investment Competition, being held this week.

Veteran entrepreneurs advise startup founders to have “intestinal fortitude”

Founder of Silicon Hills News
The buzz surrounding the Initial Public Offering of Facebook and the billions Mark Zuckerberg will receive might make people think that running a startup leads to fame, fortune and fun.
But several entrepreneurs offered up a different view at the Texas Venture Labs “Been There, Done That” panel last week at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. The panel was made up of alumni of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. They also served as judges for the finals competition.
“Expect extreme highs and extreme lows,” said Robert Reeves, director of the IT and Wireless Portfolio at the Austin Technology Incubator. He cofounded Phurnace Software with Daniel Nelson. They won the Texas Venture Labs Competition in 2006. They went on to raise $5 million in venture capital from S3 Ventures and in 2010 sold Phurnace Software to BMC Software.
“You have got to have a certain intestinal fortitude that you don’t have yet, but you’ll get there,” Reeves told the audience of about 100.
Jay Manickam, UT class of 2004, started UShip with two other UT graduate students: Matt Chasen and Shawn Bose. They entered the TVL Competition during its second year and they finished in last place.
Since graduating from UT, Manickam and his cofounders have raised a little more than $7.5 million in two rounds of funding and now have 100 employees at UShip. The company also recently launched a reality TV show on A&E called “Shipping Wars.”
“It’s not where you finish in this competition, it’s the fact that you’ve done it,” said Rob Adams, director of the TVL Investment Competition. “I was an investor at the time and I turned the deal down.”
“In the first stages, things are very, very emotional,” said Hassan Johnson, who created ThaTrunk while at UT as a platform for hip-hop artists. “It’s a rollercoaster, just enjoy.”
ThaTrunk has since evolved into a mobile proximity sharing app for creative content. It was one of TVL’s first portfolio companies. Last summer, Hassan participated in DreamIt Ventures accelerator in Philadelphia and has raised six figures in angel investments.
“Now we’re back on the fundraising trail,” Johnson said.
Angel networks, in general, play a vital role in any entrepreneurial venture, said Jeff Harbach, he serves as executive director of the Central Texas Angel Network. He also owns several small businesses including two 7-Eleven convenience stores. He received his MBA from UT where he co-founded Texas Venture Labs.
He advised entrepreneurs to start off going to the local angel network, accelerators and incubators.
“Start getting feedback as soon as you can,” Harbach said. “Be active in your ecosystem.”
A big mistake entrepreneurs make when talking to potential funders is saying they need money right off the bat, Harbach said.
“That’s the wrong way to go about it,” Harbach said. “If you’re looking for money, ask for advice. If you’re looking for advice, ask for money.”
Texas Venture Labs works closely with the Central Texas Angel Network, Adams said.
“If you look at how deals get funded in today’s environment it’s usually an angel type investment,” he said.
One of the biggest highs as a new entrepreneur comes from getting a customer’s first payment, said Sangram Kadam, who received his UT MBA in 2010 and co-founded Ordoro, inventory management software for online retailers.
But for every customer that says yes, 100 will say no, he said.
Ordoro received a $600,000 angel investment late last year.
“Since then we’ve been growing fast and furious,” Kadam said.
But as a startup founder, he’s gone without a salary and he has eaten many meals consisting of raman noodles.
Aaron Lyons, who finished his MBA in 2011, has launched a restaurant concept called Urban Dish. He’s raised $600,000 toward a $700,000 goal to fund his company.
To launch his venture, Lyons sold his car.
“I got real familiar with the bus schedule,” he said.
He also maxed out a lot of credit cards.
“Just in a day, you hit huge highs and huge lows,” Lyons said. “I’ve gotten used to something bad happening tomorrow, “ if he gets a huge check from a funder or some other good news.
When asked when is the right time to start a company, Johnson said “right after school.” That’s when you’re used to being poor. If you go work for a big company, you might get used to the perks and nice environment, he said.
Reeves said “another good time to start it is after you get fired.” He referred to unemployment checks as startup capital.
Reeves and Manickam also said it really helps to have a technical founder.
“We didn’t have one,” Manickam said. “Nowadays it’s almost a prerequisite.”
“You’ve got to have a geek on staff,” Reeves said. “No one is gong to fund anything with just a Powerpoint presentation.”
Make sure to get family support on your venture, Lyons said.
“If you do have someone else in your life, it’s not just you making the decisions,” he said. “It can add additional strain and pressure. When you have a family to support, you just have that much more on your shoulders.”
But families can also support your venture.
Reeves said his wife “called me on my bullshit.” She supported him, but she also kept him grounded.
“It’s important not to have just a good coach but an ass kicker,” Reeves said.
When seeking investment capital, always check out the profile of the investor to find out what they back, Reeves said.
“Meet the investors on a regular basis,” Kadam said.
Also, share your idea with people who will listen, Harbach said. “Get their feedback.”
The idea is all about the execution, he said. And feedback is essential, he said. The Central Texas Angel Network has office hours on Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Mozart’s coffeehouse.
Also, things take longer than you expect, Reeves said.
“Much, much longer,” he said.
Never come back from having coffee with a potential investor and tell your significant other you’re getting funding, he said. He made the mistake of doing that.
“Keep your perspective. This is one of many meetings. Tell everyone about your venture,” Manickham said. “Live it. Be proud of what you’re doing. You never know who will be able to help you.”

eyeQ wins the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition Finals

The startup eyeQ won the 2012 Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition Finals last night at the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business.
The founders, Michael Garel, CEO, and Harish Jayakumar, CTO, beat 15 other teams during the semifinals held earlier in February and three teams in the finals. The students will receive their MBAs this year. As winner of the competition, eyeQ receives a one-year membership and an office in the Austin Technology Incubator. eyeQ will also go on to compete in the 2012 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition that will be held in Austin in early May.

eyeQ's founders Michael Garel and Harish Jayakumar pitch their company

The judges thought eyeQ had the best idea, strongest management team and the clearest and most persuasive business plan and oral presentation.
eyeQ has a system to monitor consumer purchasing behavior which includes in-store cameras, analytical software and a smart screen. The system is designed to encourage consumers to buy products in the store instead of going online to make a purchase.
Every month, people use Amazon’s smart phone price scanning app to do about 20 million product searches, Garel said. That means the consumers go to the store to evaluate the product they want to buy and then they scan it with their phones and buy it online.
“Something needs to be done to prevent these online retailers from hijacking sales from brick and mortar stores,” Garel said.
A $17 billion market exists for analyzing and influencing consumer behavior, he said.
“Retail stores have a compelling need to understand and influence consumer purchasing behavior and provide an “online” experience in store,” Garel said.
That’s where eyeQ comes in. It monitors consumer purchase behavior at the shelf level with eyeQ’s dedicated camera, software and server. The system can then offer the consumer product information on a smart screen at the shelf and display a special price if the consumer buys in the next 60 minutes.
eyeQ has entered into a beta test at Golfsmith’s stores. It then plans to approach Home Depot, Costco Wholesale and other retailers like Target, Lowe’s and Best Buy
eyeQ is seeking to raise $450,000 to finish development and do the initial deployment of its system this year. Next year, eyeQ plans to raise another $850,000 to expand to 30 stores. Its goal is to be in 220 stores by 2014. The founders have already invested $44,000 in the project.
eyeQ competed against Embarkly, Athena Laboratories and Simple Invest.

Rob Adams, director of the Venture Labs Investment Competition, announcing eyeQ as the winner

For the first time in the competition’s history, the judges did not declare a second, third and fourth place finisher, said Rob Adams, director of the Venture Labs Investment Competition. He made the announcement at a gathering at Gabriel’s at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center following the competition.
“The rest of the competitors were too evenly matched,” he said.
One of the competitors was Embarkly, a pet boarding service, seeking to become the “Expedia” of the $2 billion industry.
The service helps pet owners make reservations at pet boarding facilities, said Travis Skelly, one of its founders. Nicole Dimetman is the cofounder and CEO.
“The problem is that finding a place to board my pet sucks,” Skelly said. “It’s time consuming, inconvenient and just dropping a dog off at some random location is not ideal.”
The Embarkly online marketplace allows users to log on and make a reservation at a boarding facility with little hassle, Skelly said.
Skelly estimates the company could achieve potential annual revenue of $72.5 million with a 10 percent market stake. It faces competition from Findpetcare.com, Petbookings.com, Dogboarding.com and others. The company makes money by generating leads for pet boarding facilities.
Embarkly is seeking $400,000 financing.
Simple Invest showed off its cloud-based automated platform that enables investors to diversify and rebalance their portfolio and improve their long-term investment results.

Texas Longhorn Network interviews Rohit Sharma, CEO of Simple Invest

Rohit Sharma, CEO, said diversification leads to investment success.
His product is aimed at the 96 million people in the U.S. with portfolios of $100,000 to $1 million.
Those investors have to chose among 7581 mutual funds and more than 4,500 broker dealers.
“The market is large,” Sharma said. “There is a genuine pain point.”
Next year, Simple Invest launches with five beta users. It plans to expand to 187,500 users by 2021 and revenue of $34 million.
Its competitors include spreadsheets, financial advisors, product providers and financial software.
Sharma is seeking $550,000 preferred equity for 17 percent stake in Simple Invest.
Athena Laboratories pitched its patented laser treatment for cellulite called FemtoSmooth.
FemtoSmooth is a pain-free, effective, cellulite removal involving a cool laser technology, which is high intensity laser treatment for a very short duration. It effectively treats the cause of cellulite and it’s minimally invasive. It only requires one treatment, which takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Athena Laboratories had the largest management team of all the competitors. The team is comprised of Albert Alvarez, Alex Garcia, Dr. Wendell Craig Johnson, Wayne P. Whitmore, Ravine Woods and Yewen (Wendy) Wu.
The cellulite treatment industry is a $6 billion market in the U.S. with 85 percent of women and 25 percent of men affected by cellulite, said Woods.
“There’s a market demand for an effective treatment for cellulite,” Woods said. “Over the last 10 years – cosmetic minimally invasive procedures are up 110 percent and cellulite treatments are up 30 percent.’’
So far, FemtoSmooth’s inventors have invested $1.4 million and they have 14 patents on the technology. The team is seeking another $7.5 million to take the product to market.
The company projects $45 million in revenue by 2017.

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